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‘I want us to recognize the true heroes’: Fire chief shares stories of heroism from Fort McMurray

Darby Allen, the director of emergency management and fire chief, said on Monday that 2,400 structures were burned from the blaze and that two lives were taken in a traffic accident outside of town. Allen also spoke about the heroes helping to combat the fire.

At a media briefing on Monday, Fort McMurray’s fire chief provided a detailed update about the destruction the wildfire has left in its wake, but he also shared some stories of everyday heroism.

Darby Allen began by talking about a firefighter from the Fort McMurray Fire Department, who was battling the fire in the north end of the city.

READ MORE: ‘Ocean of fire’ destroys 2,400 structures but 85% of Fort McMurray still stands

“As they progressed down the road, they happened to start fighting the fire in his own home,” Allen said. “They lost his home. He didn’t drop his nozzle; he moved to his neighbour’s house and continued to fight that fire…for a further 22 hours before he just couldn’t stand any more.”

READ MORE: Image of firefighters resting after saving homes in Fort McMurray goes viral

Allen also talked about a 21-year-old woman who came to work for Regional Emergency Services as a student and had only been on the job two days when catastrophe struck.

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“She didn’t back away,” the chief said. “We put her in a chair and said, ‘could you take care of that for us please?’ and seven days later, she’s still here and still working hard.”

WATCH: The first responders in Fort McMurray are protecting the place they live.

Fort McMurray wildfire: First responders’ voices
Fort McMurray wildfire: First responders’ voices

Allen finished by sharing a story about Dale Bendfeld.

“He hasn’t been the face of this fire, but he has been one of my right-hand men,” Allen said.

READ MORE: Unpredictable weather forces evacuees out of nearby Anzac 

“We didn’t think there was a fire in Anzac one night and we found out in a hurry there (was). When we went into that community, Dale Bendfeld was on his own. With a couple of people and a flash light and making some phone calls, he evacuated 450 people in two hours. That is true heroism.”